Press Briefing, Feb. 21, 2007
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, spokesman, Multi-National Force - Iraq
MEDIA ROUND-TABLE BRIEFING BY MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN AND DEPUTY CHIEF FOR STRATEGIC EFFECTS FOR MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ TOPIC: SITUATIONAL UPDATE LOCATION: THE COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ TIME: 7:00 A.M. EST DATE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2007
GEN. CALDWELL: Good afternoon. "As-salaam aleikum."
Before we get started today, I'd like to inform you of a unique opportunity we have that's going to follow right behind our round table. At 4 p.m. today we're going to have a video teleconference here with a panel of governors from northern Iraq, specifically Nineveh, Salahuddin, Kirkuk and Diyala. And they're -- they've been conducting a daylong governors conference up in Tikrit. And what we've set up is the ability for you all, if you would like, to sit here and have an interactive session with them and ask them questions about what's going on in their provinces.
They spent this conference up there -- it's really the first time they've done something like this. And they agreed at the end of -- the conclusion today to have this panel discussion to share their concerns, their issues. We've been working real hard at helping facilitate bringing the governors down here to Baghdad, so they could interact with the governmental officials over the last two months.
And so all of them had a chance to get down to Baghdad at least once, if not multiple times, and they've had a daylong conference, sharing different things up there, from governance to funding, to ongoing projects and sharing ideas with what's happening in their areas.
I'd also say for some time now we've come and -- before you, and we've talked about the -- that this war will not be won until the Iraqis are able to stand up and find solutions to their own country's problems. Although this effort to improve security in Iraq will take time, this past week we have seen some signs that Iraqi leaders are in fact making the tough decisions needed to demonstrate their commitment to serve all Iraqis.
Last week General Abboud (Qanbar ?), military commander for Baghdad, announced the initiation of Operation Fard al-Qanun, the newest iteration of the Baghdad security plan. Elements of all three additional Iraqi army brigades have in fact arrived and begun operations here in the capital. Those forces are still flowing in, but the elements of all three brigades are here. These Iraqi forces are deploying throughout the city and working also in the joint security stations, where they're living and patrolling jointly with Iraqi police and with coalition forces.
Four new joint security stations were opened this week, bringing the total stations now to 14. And again, as we've discussed before, this number will increase significantly over the coming weeks and months until there's no district in the city that doesn't at least have one present there.
Last week the government of Iraq also closed the ports of entry with both Iran and Syria for three days. Coalition forces were working very closely with them at working to identify training shortfalls for border enforcement personnel and addressing them where required. Classes were conducted in support of the border closure on topics such as badge procedures, false passport recognition, patrolling, gate security and vehicle inspection procedures.
Whenever possible, Iraqi officers led their own training, with specialty classes being given on intelligence procedures and equipment training provided by coalition forces. The ability to protect the integrity of their borders will allow Iraq to be free of foreign interference and help provide for breathing space necessary to find political solutions to Iraq's problems.
As I've noted previously, in a counterinsurgency fight such as in Iraq, kinetic military operations must be reinforced by efforts to bolster the political, the economic and the rule of law sectors in order to be successful.
One key difference between Fard al-Qanun and previous iterations of the Baghdad Security Plan is that this time, we intend to build continuously Iraqi institutions and invest in neighborhoods, even as we conduct security operations.
I think most of you heard this past Saturday when the ministry of Finance here in Iraq hosted a conference to discuss the execution of their 2007 budget and announce support for Operation Fard al-Qanun. Minister Jaber said, and I quote, "We are here today for the sake of supporting Fard al-Qanun and providing services to citizens. This effort is part of the plan," unquote.
Among the key decisions that were made at that conference was the decision to open banks, more specifically, bank branches, to help revitalize neighborhoods where in fact operations are being conducted; also providing previously allocated funds to Tall Afar, Samarra, Najaf and Al Anbar; and also to accelerate loans for the government of Iraq's housing program to allow displaced families to return to Iraq.
Although these first steps are encouraging, it is important to remember that Fard al-Qanun is only in its initial stages. The full plan will unfold over the course of the next several months, as additional Iraqi and coalition forces deploy both in and around the Baghdad area. Though there may be good days during that time, we are also going to have tough ones. Al Qaeda in Iraq will undoubtedly try to incite another cycle of sectarian violence through cowardly, barbaric attacks on innocent Iraqi civilians. The terrorists will adjust and react to our tactics. We saw evidence of this in the past week with mass casualty bombings in Rusafa, Kirkuk, New Baghdad, amongst other areas. Our efforts and those of our Iraqi partners will have to adapt to these enemy actions. We're also relying on the Iraqi people to choose restraint in the face of these vehicle-borne IEDs. The Iraqi security force will need the support of the Iraqi people in order to defeat these terrorists.
In their first week of Fard al-Qanun, there has been a significant reduction in sectarian incidents and in extrajudicial killings in Baghdad because the Iraqi people have chose restraint rather than retribution. However, while this is in fact very encouraging, we cannot stress strongly enough that it would be premature to declare Fard al-Qanun a success. Success will require a sustained effort and a comprehensive approach that complements progress and security with political, economic, legal and social initiatives. The effects of the operation will not be seen in days or weeks, but over the course of months.
We do not expect to eliminate all violence in Iraq. The Multinational Force Iraq's objective is to help the Iraqi security force reduce the violence enough to give the Iraqi people and their government an opportunity to reach political solutions to Iraq's problems. This effort will be extremely challenging, but it is one that is doable.
And with that, I'll be glad to take whatever questions you may have.
STAFF: We've going to start over here in the back.
GEN. CALDWELL: Yes, sir.
Q Major General, do you have anymore information at this time about a helicopter downing at some point today north of Baghdad?
GEN. CALDWELL: Preliminary reports are still coming in. It is correct we had a Black Hawk helicopter make a hard landing. Initial reports are that there were nine people on board. An accompanying helicopter has already landed and picked those personnel up. They're all okay, and the site is currently being secured while we assess exactly what's wrong with the Black Hawk.
Q That would mean it was mechanical and not combat related?
GEN. CALDWELL: It's just a little too early for us to tell. We have asked, obviously, those questions. We just don't know right yet. We do know that it was a hard landing. We just don't know what -- why it had the hard landing yet.
(Off mike) -- know shortly.
STAFF: Next question. Over on this side over here.
Q Thank you. I'm Bill Ickes from AFP. Could you tell us what the MNF-I found out about the reports about the rape -- the alleged rape? I understand that she may have been under the protection of MNF-I troops for part of that time. And do you think we're going to be able to get a balanced account of things from --
Q It's not working. Do you think -- because on the Iraqi side we're getting a lot of different versions. Do you think the U.S.-led forces will come up with a -- will be able to provide an objective account of what may have happened?
GEN. CALDWELL: Bill, what I can tell you right now is many of the events and circumstances surrounding this alleged assault are still being pulled together at this point in order to establish exactly what may or may not have happened.
What I can tell you is that, you know, when you look at the whole purpose of why we're doing Fard al-Qanun, the operation here in Baghdad, it's to protect the people. I mean that's the key element of a counterinsurgency effort here, is we have to reach out and protect the people. And the fact that this has occurred gives everybody grave concern, this allegation that has been made, and we're all looking at it very carefully.
What I can tell you is that at a point on Sunday evening, an Iraqi woman was brought to our medical facility. She was put under the care of our medical personnel there, and sometime early Monday morning she was released. Obviously, because of patient privacy, which we adhere to very strictly, we have not discussed any of the care provided, nor would we discuss anything that was associated with the care given to her. She was released with her medical records. What she does with those is her own decision. But nothing out of the Multinational Force would be released from us.
We have, at the direction of General Petraeus, designated an investigating officer from our side, a staff judge advocate, a lawyer, who currently is pulling together as much information as we can and the timeline associated with all the events surrounding this so that once the government of Iraq makes a decision how they're going to move forward, if there's an investigating judicial process established and they need the information from us, we'll make that readily available to them.
The allegation is, from her, that there were some Iraqi police that did assault her. Again, this is something for the government of Iraq to investigate. It does not, obviously, imply anything about the Multinational Force, but we did provide medical care for her while she was at our facility on Sunday night/Monday morning.
STAFF: Sir, we have a question over here.
Q If I could just --
Q If we could follow up. So, if I understand correctly, you're saying that the medical report that was released by the prime minister's office this morning did not come from U.S. forces?
GEN. CALDWELL: That's exactly correct. We have not released any medical information whatsoever to anybody. It's a patient privacy issue, and we would only release it in the case of a legal process that comes forth and requests that information. And it would have to be done through all the appropriate legal channels.
STAFF: Sir, we have a question over here.
Q In Arabic, sir. (Through interpreter.) I have two questions. My first question, there are some Sunni politicians who have some reservations on the security measures taken by the government because they claim that the security plan targets the Sunni areas and you are accompanying the Iraqi forces while they are carrying out this plan.
The second question, why did you storm the Union of Journalists and the office of al-Sadr in Al-Shu'la?
GEN. CALDWELL: In regards to your first question about where in fact military operations are being conducted currently within Baghdad, Fard al-Qanun has divided the city up into 10 districts. There is the normal nine districts, and then the Karrada district was divided in half. So you have 10 districts within the city in which the forces are operating.
And I say the forces because what you're going to find in each of these 10 districts will be Iraqi police, an Iraqi army brigade and a coalition force battalion designated for each district. They remain there, and in permanent posture, in order to conduct operations within their district. The intent there is, they can start to understand the people, establish relationships with the neighborhood and even the district advisory councils, and have a dialogue ongoing, so that when they find areas where there's challenges, where there's problems, they're able to focus their efforts there.
But they remain there permanently. That's why we're establishing these joint security stations, so that -- what we have realized, to protect the population, we can't -- we the coalition force -- can't be living on some big operating base. We need to move our forces off those big operating bases down into the city and be co-located with our Iraqi counterparts, both the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police, so that we have a better feel for what's going on in that neighborhood.
There is -- the operations are not being focused against one particular neighborhood or one particular sect. They're being focused where they think they'll have the greatest effort at reducing the levels of ongoing violence. These past two weeks, we've seen a significant reduction, obviously, in the level of sectarian violence within the city, and you can account for that for many reasons. The thing we have not been able to bring under control is the number of vehicle-borne IEDs, and in the last few days, the suicide vest that obviously we think the tactics have slightly switched to, because of the success we're starting to achieve in stopping the vehicles now from getting into the crowded areas where the Iraqi citizens are.
So there's no particular area we're focusing operations against a particular sect. It truly is -- as the prime minister has stated, it's being done for all Iraqis to bring greater security to the city.
As far as your second question about this operation that we're alleged to have conducted, thus far, I have been unable to confirm that we did in fact conduct a military operation there. We were checking into it just a few more hours ago. That's not to say it did not occur, but thus far I cannot confirm that any coalition forces were involved in an operation at that location. And if we do find out we were, we obviously will come right out right away with further information about it.
STAFF: Question on this side of the room?
GEN. CALDWELL: Yes, sir.
Q Josh Partlow, Washington Post.
Can you -- is it possible to quantify at all? When you say a significant reduction in troops -- or in sectarian attacks, are there any figures you have available at this point? And also do you have any latest figures on the number of additional U.S. troops who are now arrived in Baghdad? What's the latest figures?
GEN. CALDWELL: Yeah, we -- the -- it's -- the number of casualties has remained high because of the sensational attacks that have occurred through use vehicle-borne IEDs and recently a couple of suicide vests.
If you look just at the sectarian level of violence, the extrajudicial type killings that we had traditionally seen, there has been quite a significant reduction in that area.
We've gone ahead and looked also at the figures from the morgue itself too, to see if that -- we find the same trend from there too, and there has been a significant reduction. I -- we almost hate to quantify it. Suffice it to say, though, it's very significantly lower than we had experienced in the past.
But again, it's very premature to make any conclusions or to say there's any trends that are developing yet. This is very early stages of this operation. We're encouraged by the fact that the Iraqis have shown such incredible restraint and have not chose retribution, you know, through these VBIEDs that -- clearly, the intent of those -- and we've tied them back to one or two AQI networks. We're obviously focused very heavily with some specific assets, looking at those, because of this. But it's clear that their intent is to incite and spark that cycle of violence all over again that we have seen in the past, where they go in with some large VBIED, inflict a lot of casualties in a perhaps predominantly Shi'a area, in turn trying to start the cycle of retribution that would occur right after that.
And then your -- I think your second question was, how many additional forces? Thus far we have moved one additional U.S.- coalition force brigade into the city, of about 2,700 soldiers. There are some additional lead elements of the next brigade starting to arrive, but obviously they're not going to be put into operations right away.
But we have in fact increased the number of U.S. or, I should say, coalition forces by about 2,700 that are currently conducting operations in the city. And the next brigade is obviously starting to flow at this point, both into Kuwait, with lead elements arriving here, and to Iraq.
And again, as we've talked before, by the end of May, we will have closed all the coalition force brigades, all five of them, that are on the current plan to be deployed into Iraq.
There has been a plus-up in Iraqi security forces also. Elements of all three of the Iraqi army brigades are here, and the rest are continuing to close. On the current timeline that they're -- they've sort of laid out, probably by about the end of the first week in March, no later than the middle of March, they will have closed their forces.
And again, that's the reason we keep stressing to everybody that Operation Fard al-Qanun is going to take some time. This is not going to happen overnight. It's -- all the forces would not be in place until the end of May. General Petraeus has stated it's going to take him a month or two to feel comfortable to come out publicly and start saying that, yes, I see the opportunity for this, in fact, to achieve the results we want it to. It will not have achieved the results in a month or two. We will just have a real good indication that we, in fact, have the ability to achieve those results.
STAFF: Question on this side of the room.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from press. General, there were three arrest warrants issued against the girl. So how was she diagnosed in the Green Zone? And then she was released. Is there any coordination between the Iraqi army and the coalition forces? And since that you have the results of the medical report, why don't you inform us about them?
GEN. CALDWELL: The woman did arrive at our -- the question was, the woman who has stated about the alleged assault by Iraqi police -- did arrive at our medical facility on Sunday night around 6:00-7:00 p.m. here, the 28th Combat Support Hospital, located about a mile or two from here. And she did receive care that evening. We were not aware of any, as there alleged to be, arrest warrants out for her.
I guess the key thing to understand is it doesn't matter who you are -- you can be a terrorist, you can be an insurgent -- when you arrive at a medical facility that the coalition forces are in charge of, you're going to receive humane treatment and care. And then after the fact, people will sort out whether or not you're considered to be some other element such as an insurgent or something like that.
But she came in for medical care. We treated her and then released her the next -- we provided her care and then released her the next morning.
As far as the medical records go, we have a very strict policy in the multinational force medical facilities that we never release any medical information on patients period. It's called the patient's right of privacy, and it's just something we don't violate. It would -- the only way we would surrender any information would be through a court order or legal action that would have us release that information. And thus far, we have not received anything of the such, and therefore, we're not releasing any information.
STAFF: Question on this side of the room.
Q Jim Glanz, New York Times. General, I think just about every reporter in this room at one time or another has gone out on an embed where there were raids and sometimes large raids, before which the people they were going after had melted away, and afterward in some of those places, the bad guys, whoever they were, came back.
And sometimes this is accompanied by, you know, increased activity around the fringes where they're looking. Are you sensitive to that fact, that they may just be laying low, and are you seeing any indications -- and are you looking for them -- that there might be increased insurgent activity or hideouts around the city? Are you looking for sort of the rats running off the ship?
GEN. CALDWELL: Jim, we are, and we're very sensitive to that. It's kind of a two-edged sword. One is if they go to low or they leave the Baghdad area, it gives us the ability to come in and establish some security, some presence and then start to work the economic revitalization, work the resettlement, work the housing issues, the things that are necessary and get the basic services back up and running. The difference this time is we're not leaving. We're going to remain in those areas. And in the past, we did in fact, after a point time, move on to another area; this time, a number of forces are being brought in that will allow us to maintain a long-term presence till it's established that the Iraqi security forces have the ability to continue to sustain and provide the security necessary for the people, the Iraqi people in that area.
As far as the fringes go, we are very sensitive to that. And as these additional forces flow in, I think General Odierno will be the first to tell you that he has not made his final recommendation to General Petraeus where he would like to employ those final two brigades.
Clearly in the operational planning, they've looked at areas within Baghdad at how they would use them and where they would use them. But as we watch what they call the belt around Baghdad, it's clear indications right now that there is increased activity there. And again, without getting into operational decisions -- because none have been made yet -- but I do know that General Odierno is looking at that very closely. He's talked about it. And where he makes a recommendation to General Petraeus as to where those additional brigades go will be some time in coming as they watch and the situation continues to develop.
STAFF: Question on this side of the room.
GEN. CALDWELL: Yes, sir.
Q General, good afternoon. Cremonesi of Corriere della Sera from Italy. General, two questions. GEN. CALDWELL: Okay.
Q First question is, when do you think we'll be starting to operate in a very decided manner in Sadr City? I already asked you this question a couple of weeks ago. Sadr City -- we heard kind of strange rumors coming out from there, like you're waiting -- there is a kind of underground negotiation between Maliki government and the Jaish al-Mahdi, trying to have the bad guys getting out, some of them even escaping to Iran, trying to go there in a soft area -- in a softer manner in order to avoid major clashes, I presume.
So the question is, when are you entering there -- when are you going to put JSS's there? How many?
And the second question, if it's possible, is at the end -- I mean, I understand end of May when all the troops would be deployed on the ground, Iraqi and Americans. Can you tell us the final figures, how many soldiers will be 24 hours on the ground in Baghdad -- Iraqi and Americans? Because we hear different figures about that.
GEN. CALDWELL: As far as your first question goes about Sadr City, what I would tell you is anytime you can find a political solution instead of a military solution, it's always better. It requires less loss of life, and then, of course, it's a much longer sustaining effect that's occurred when it's a political solution.
So I think it would be only appropriate that obviously we're pursuing all means available to engage with and talk with all elements within the Baghdad city area as we continue with Operation Fard al- Qanun. So it is reasonable, and it would only be expected for us to be engaged in dialogue with different elements associated with different groups within the city of Baghdad. Those are ongoing and should be part of -- and the prime minister has stated that's part of his overall plan, is to always find a political solution first, if he can, before it's a military solution.
We are going to set up a joint security station in Sadr City. There's been at least one that is on a map, identify where they're going to put it. I don't know the exact date they plan to fully occupy it on a 24 by 7 basis. Obviously, we don't announce any of the JSS's occupations and establishments before they occur but, rather, after they're up and operational. And so -- but there is in fact a plan, and they will operate in Sadr City. Operations are continuing in SadrCity as we speak. We've in and out of there almost on a daily basis now for the past two weeks. I say "we" -- the Iraqi and coalition forces working together, the security forces in Baghdad. So that's ongoing.
As far as May goes and the total numbers, right now, today there's about 90,000 troops, when you count the Iraqi police, the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces that have been assigned to the Baghdad area to assist on operations here, that's counting the latest coalition force brigade that has already arrived. The final number will vary only because General Odierno may not decide to put the last brigade or two brigades or even three brigades inside the city. He may put them on the belt around the Baghdad city area or some place else.
He's leaving himself tremendous flexibility in the operational decisions as he continues to work very closely with the Iraqi security forces as to where we want to make those focus areas.
So that number is going to vary. There is no set number I could give you right now, because they may not -- you know, just like we have two Marine Corps infantry battalions coming in, they're going to go out to Al Anbar.
General Odierno may make the decision he wants to move one of these brigades up to the Diyala province. He has that flexibility because it's about overall security, establishing a safe, secure and self-governing Iraq.
And so where he wants to put those forces is his decision. There's nobody dictating that to him, but he worked very closely General Petraeus, obviously, and with the government of Iraq when they make that decision.
STAFF: A question on this side of the room.
Q (Off mike) -- just one follow-up, one question, just -- (inaudible) -- question.
GEN. CALDWELL: Okay.
Q That means that there is before entering in Sadr City, there are some negotiations, some contacts with Jaish al-Mahdi, with the main militia over there.
GEN. CALDWELL: There's obviously an ongoing dialogue that you would hope would occur. Whenever you can find a political solution instead of a military solution, it's always better.
The prime minister has been very active engaging with and reaching out to a lot of different groups, and he's continuing to do that even today. And we are working in support of those efforts and having a dialogue with any groups that he wants the coalition forces to engage with and talk to, obviously always in close consultation with both the government of Iraq when we do this, too. But yes, those kind of discussions are ongoing, and I think it would be irresponsible of us if we didn't attempt to do that first.
Q General -- (through interpreter) -- concerning the issue of Sabrin al-Janabi, the Iraqi government said that this is only a politically motivated issue to foil the security plan in Baghdad. And about the terrorist operations in al-Sadr and in New Baghdad, don't you think these actions happened because you didn't support the Iraqi forces? There isn't any logistics support to the Iraqi forces, and that's why the terrorist operations in New Baghdad and Sadr City took place.
GEN. CALDWELL: Just to make -- if I could, I want to make sure I've got your question correctly. I think you were asking me: Do I -- do we think that this allegation that's been made against the Iraqi police by that woman is in fact intended to derail the Baghdad security plan?
Q Yes, it is.
GEN. CALDWELL: Yeah. You know, the -- again, the whole intent of Operation Fard al-Qanun is to secure the population.
We're going in there to secure the population, protect the people, so that we can then start establishing a safe, secure and stable self- government here in Iraq.
These allegations are made against individuals, not against the government of Iraq. This woman came forward and alleged that she had been assaulted by, as I understand, three Iraqi police. Obviously that needs to be looked into very carefully. We take that allegation very seriously, and we're going to work very much in support of the government of Iraq, providing them as much information as we can as to what we might be able to ascertain what may or may not have happened. And so we're here to do that for them.
But that should not be connected with this operation. This operation is for all Iraqis. It's for all the people of Iraq. It's for all the people of Baghdad. Because there's two or three that are alleged to have done something wrong should not be taken and made as an allegation against the entire force. There are brave Iraqi soldiers out there each day, both Iraqi army soldiers and Iraqi police soldiers, who are doing their mission.
I was just last week down at a joint security station on the east side of the river, going through it, talking to the Iraqi police and talking to the Iraqi army. I mean, I've been around this country now for about 10 months, and I can tell you there is a new sense of commitment and dedication that I personally, as somebody who's able to come in and go out -- so I don't see it every day, but I see it every couple days a week -- that I have not seen before. I mean, I saw a true sense of a commitment at least in this one security station.
Again, it was only one out of the 14 that exist out there today, where they were all determined that they're going to make it work this time; that they're going to work together, they're going to work as teams, they're going to provide the checks and balances on each other, they're going to help each other out, and they're going to protect the population here. And I would sure hope that people would not allow this to get politicized about this allegation that this woman has made and try to attach it to the goodness of what the prime minister's trying to do with Operation Fard al-Qanun.
And as far as logistics go, you know, there's no question that the Iraqi army -- we've said it before. There's -- if we had to say what does the Iraqi army need this year, they need logistics training. We've got to give them better logistics training. We've got to give them some more leadership training. We know we need to give more intelligence training in how to do intelligence collection. And in some cases, we need to work on loyalty. I mean, it's a fact, and we know that and we recognize that.
I think if you look, the -- just -- either yesterday or today --
Q (Through interpreter.) General, I mean some devices to detect the explosive materials. You didn't equip the -- you didn't provide equipment to the Iraqi army that helped them to detect car bombs, for example.
GEN. CALDWELL: What I would tell you is that the government of Iraq can buy whatever equipment they want. They've got a very large budget. They have the ability to buy whatever equipment they want to buy for their security forces. They're making extremely good use of the foreign military sales.
Just this past week, I think you saw the delivery of their first new Huey helicopters, the dual-engine Huey helicopters that the government of Iraq is purchasing for its air force. Five of them arrived here in Baghdad amongst a fielding of many more that are going to occur over the next couple of months. So they are in fact spending their money and buying equipment for the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.
But these detection devices -- we're making available what we have, and anything they want to purchase in addition to that, they're -- you know, they can of course do that. They've got the budget, the funding, the capability to do that.
STAFF: We have time for one more question on this side of the room.
Q General, Miguel Marquez with ABC News.
I'm a little confused on the investigation thing, only because the prime minister says the investigation is closed, and you seem to suggest that it is still open. And also more broadly, you've used the phrase "changing tactics" a bit. The prime minister's office has said very clearly that this woman's allegations were meant to bring down the security plan and the progress that they're making, that we are seeing as well.
We also had the cop that was hit up in Tadamiyah (sp). We've had -- we've seen more activity on the edges of the city. We're seeing changing tactics: bus bombings, suicide vests.
Can you talk more generally about what those changing tactics are or how adaptive this enemy already is? And is this something you had planned for? Certainly the cops, more than anything, seem much more exposed and in danger of attack -- of American troops.
GEN. CALDWELL: Yeah, I think it would be a twofold. One is -- again, what General Petraeus has asked us to do, he has appointed an investigating officer to make sure that we have collected all the information that we have associated with these allegations where coalition forces may have come in contact with somebody or heard something or seen something, to make sure we're making that available to whatever follow-on request is made from the government of Iraq. So we're going to make sure we collect all that information and have that available. I have heard that perhaps the -- again, I should let the government of Iraq speak for the investigation themselves, but we are making it known that we are going to collect all the information and make it available to them upon their request.
As far as the tactics, yeah, we did anticipate that a change would occur. We knew that once we started going in, and especially -- I mean, we had spent a lot of time identifying with the government of Iraq's security forces, where all the different marketplaces were, the ingress-egress routes, the side roads, the traffic pattern flows, and spent quite a bit of time working as a city manager-type thing, looking at those and trying to figure out how we could better protect, you know. In fact, last week when several of the car bombs went off, you know, coalition forces were in direct proximity there because we were already moving in and replacing various systems with the Iraqi security forces when those occurred.
And we have continued working to funnel traffic away from large, obviously, populated areas where the citizens will congregate to do their shopping and other things. We continue to look at this very closely and obviously, as Jim asked about, on the outskirts, we are concerned about the belts around Baghdad. And there's been predominant belts that tend to be more extremist in nature on one side of the sect or the other.
And so we have dedicated some assets that are in fact working there trying to gain intelligence and give us a better understanding what is going on out on those belts.
So we are going to continue to adapt and refine what we're doing. We're not going to remain static. I would not want to tell you exactly the other steps that are being taken right now by General Odierno within the city, but they've already started talking about other things they're going to in addition to channeling some of the traffic pattern flows.
Q From what you're seeing already, though -- from what you're seeing already, though, how much more exposed are American troops?
GEN. CALDWELL: There's always an interesting discussion. We can sit on a forward operating base in large numbers; we'll be very secure when we're there. But if we do that, every time we move off that base, we are subjected to whatever's outside the base, and that's the only place we can operate.
If we are going to protect the population, we have to be down there with the population. We will in fact gain greater security by being embedded with and living with the population than we will back seeing on some large operating base. Inherent upon it is to make an assessment to each of these joint security stations that we're going to live and operate out of is what -- and what -- how much security do we need associated do we need associated with that area where we're operating. But by being down there and embedded with the population, we in fact gain greater security being with them than we do being back on the large operating bases. And over time, as the rest of these joint security stations are stood up and operating, I think we'll see that borne out statistically even as we look at it. But again, we've only got 14 up. There's a plan for at least 28 or 30 to go up, so there's a lot more that are still going to get established throughout the city to establish that full-time, permanent presence down with the people.
Q Does that -- (inaudible) --
STAFF: Sir, that's all the time we have.
GEN. CALDWELL: That's different than combat outpost.
Q So it is in addition to a combat outpost? GEN. CALDWELL: Yes.
All right. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
And again, you all, there will be that 1600 hours -- 4:00 p.m. video teleconference here if you all want to interact with the four governors from up north right after this.
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